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November 28, 2012


Replies: 264

The Problem of Evil

ResponsibleAtheist Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2012
One of the most well-known arguments against the existence of the monotheistic god is the Problem of Evil. For those who don't know, I'll explain it to you:

Premise 1: God is omnipotent, and is therefore able to prevent evil from existing without any effort.
Premise 2: God is omniscient, and therefor knows that evil exists and how to prevent it.
Premise 3: God is omnibenevolent, so he wouldn't allow his creations to suffer pointlessly, more than others, or at all.
Premise 4: God exists.
Conclusion: Evil does not exist.

Let's assume that all 4 premises are correct. You'll notice that while the conclusion logically follows from the premises, it does not fit with reality. Every day, millions of people are suffering from diseases, injuries, starvation, acts of violence and so on. Since the conclusion follows logically from the premises, but does not fit with the reality, one of the premises must be false. We can draw 4 possible conclusions from this:

1. God can't prevent evil, and is therefore a finite being.
2. God doesn't know how to prevent evil or doesn't know that it exists, and is therefore a finite being.
3. God doesn't want to prevent evil, and is therefore malicious.
4. God does not exist.

Since omnipotence, omniscience and Omnibenevolence are fundamental characteristics of the god described in Christianity, Judaism and Islam, it means that this god can't exist.

Of course, there are arguments against the Problem of Evil. These are the following:

1. Freewill defense.

The most well-known argument against the Problem of Evil is the Freewill defense, originally formulated by Alvin Plantinga. Plantinga claims that god can't create a world without evil, because than people wouldn't have complete freedom to make their own choices. This argument is accepted by many people, but there are several problems with this defense:

1. Many forms of suffering are not caused by freewill, but by natural events, like hurricanes, lightning strikes and tsunamis. Preventing these events would prevent suffering, but won't interfere with freewill. I know that some of these events are caused by human interference, either as an accident or because people didn't care enough. However, since it wasn't their intention to cause these events, it won't interfere with freewill to prevent these things from happening or causing suffering. Some apologists claim that these events are caused by demons, Satan, fallen angels or other non-human creatures who do possess freewill. However, why would an omniscient, omnibenevolent being allow these creatures to exist in the first place if they will only cause suffering? What good did creating these creatures do? And even if the good they did outweighed the bad, couldnīt God have created creatures who WOULDNīT do all those evil things?
2. Most people who use the Freewill defense believe in Heaven, a place where people don't suffer. This would mean that in Heaven, there is no freewill, even though God supposedly cares more about freewill than about the wellbeing of his creations. The fact that god can create a place where there's freewill, but no suffering, completely destroys the Freewill defense. Some argue that God only allows people into heaven who only do good things. However, the good qualities of these people couldnīt prevent them from sinning every second of their life (especially since things like looking lustfully at someone (which is completely natural) is sinful), and if they could, than we would never see someone who has been established as a good person do a bad thing. So if their qualities couldnīt keep them from sinning every second of their finite live, than how could they prevent them from sinning during their ETERNITY in heaven? And if God makes it so that they canīt lose their sinless qualities in heaven, then he would be interfering with free will (which counters the freewill defense).
3. According to Alvin Plantinga, we are created in god's image, and therefore have freewill. Since God is omnibenevolent, it means that it's possible for beings to have freewill, but be without evil.
4. In certain cases, freewill will be affected regardless of god's interference. Take for example a woman being raped. If god interferes, it (at most) affects the freewill of the rapist. If he doesn't interfere, he allows the rapist to force the woman to have sex with him, AGAINST HER WILL. In both cases, at least one person's freewill is going to be effected, but by interfering, god will save the woman instead of allowing the rapist to continue violating her. An omnibenevolent god would help her, so why do thousands of women get raped each year?
5. People are constantly crediting miracles to God, meaning that he supposedly DOES interfere with people for their sake. So much for freewill, right?
6. Both Yahweh and Jehovah (and possibly Allah, I haven't read the Quran) have interfered with humans numerous times in their holy books. They have performed miracles, showed themselves to people, and even participated in experiments to prove their existence. In fact, Jehovah/Yahweh hardened the Pharaoh's hart so he wouldn't release the Jews from Egypt (Exodus 4:21-23), meaning that he interfered with the Pharaoh's freewill. Therefore, the Freewill defense doesn't apply to the god described in most monotheistic religions.
7. If God is omniscient, he already knows everything that we're going to do. The only way for this to be possible is if the future is predetermined, which means that we don't have free will. So if God is omniscient, than we can't have free will.

2. Suffering makes us stronger.

According to many people, God makes us suffer to make us stronger. After all, you can't know good without experiencing the bad. However, this argument doesn't really hold water, because some groups suffer much more than other groups. There are people who never have to work and always get three meals a day, while there are also people who are starving to death and suffering from diseases. Why do these people get to suffer so much more than those other people? Also, when a baby dies of cancer, it won't make his stronger, it will KILL him. Theists than say that it was meant to make the baby's parents stronger, but what kind of God would allow a baby to suffer an agonizing death, just so his parents can undergo some character development? What kind of parent would love a being that would do such a thing to their child for that reason? I know that some forms of suffering eventually have positive results in some way, but a lot of suffering is completely pointless and is way too much for the victims to handle.

Theists also often claim that God is testing us. Why would he do that if he's supposed to be omniscient? And why would he ''test'' babies, who don't yet have the mental skills to understand any kind of test? It has also been proven that physical and emotional damage as a baby has negative effects on you your whole life (like being more sensitive to pain, or having a lower I.Q) ([link] and [link])

3. It's part of God's plan.

It's ironic how this argument completely contradicts the claim that we have freewill (the basis of the Freewill defense). Therefore, you can't use the Freewill defense, while at the same time claim that god has a plan for us (in case you did both those things).

As I stated before, a lot of suffering seems completely pointless, and therefor is unlikely to be part of an omnibenevolent god's plan. If a woman dies during childbirth, it means that the child won't have a mother, and the father has to raise the child on his own and has just lost his wife. Why would God make this part of his plan? And what about all those cases where a factory burns down, killing dozens of people and leaving hundreds without a job? Also, why would God make a commandment called ''Thou shall not kill''? If god has planned every death, it would be pointless for him to tell his followers not to kill, because they wouldn't have done it anyway unless God wanted them to do it. Therefore, a god who makes these commandments is very unlikely to have planned every form of suffering, including murders. Also, couldnīt an omnipotent, omniscient God come up with a plan which DIDNīT require the painful deaths of babies and young children?

4. God works in mysterious ways.

People constantly use this argument without realizing that it's just a case of special pleading. After all, any criminal can claim that he worked in mysterious ways. By theistic logic, we would have to buy this. Also, they often use other arguments (like that he punishes people), which means they DO claim to know his reasons.

5. The suffering happening on earth is insignificant compared to the joy in Heaven.

According to many theists, the joy that we experience in Heaven makes the suffering insignificant. However, as I already said before, many people suffer much more than other people, making the whole experience still unnecessarily unfair. Also, according to Christianity, Judaism and Islam, most people won't go to Heaven, because they worship another god or do something else that's considered sinful. Therefore, at least half of the world's population will go to hell, which greatly damages the argument's credibility.

Also, Christians often claim that one day, God WILL bring an end to suffering and evil. If this is true, then why hasn't he done it already? Maybe he could have done this instead of, oh I don't know, KILLING EVERYTHING on the planet with a huge flood?

And if what happens on earth is insignificant compared with heaven, why didnīt God just have humans be born in heaven in the first place? What did he accomplice by making them suffer so much on earth for all those years/decades? Christians than say that Adam and Eve used to live in Heaven (the Garden of Eden), and chose to leave by eating from the fruit (even though God never mentioned that they would be thrown out, and instead said that they would die). However, why did only they get this choice? Why didnīt their billions of decedents get this choice too?

6. Criminals and other evil people will eventually be punished for their crimes by spending eternity in hell.

I know that some Christians don’t think Hell is eternal (or that there’s even a literal hell), so some of these arguments might not apply to them. But let me explain why spending of all eternity in agony is a completely pointless and unjust punishment:

1. When people suffers in hell for all of eternity, it won't undo the damage that they have done to the world when they were still alive, meaning that their victims were not saved in any way. Even when the victims survived, the idea that their tormenters spend all of eternity in hell will not make them feel any better. After all, what kind of sadist would enjoy the idea that someone is spending all of eternity suffering in hell?
2. Will suffering for eternity teach them WHY their actions were bad? An omnipotent god could come up with a much better punishment. For example, he could make them suffer all the wrongs that they have ever done to others, and then their punishments would end. This punishment would be much more effective, and a lot shorter.
3. Before creating these people, god already knew that they would spend eternity in hell, so why did he create them anyway? It's better to have never existed in the first place, than spend an eternity in agony.

Therefore, an omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent god would not send people to hell.

7. Our definition of evil is different from God's.

According to Theists, God created us in his image, and is the source of our morality. This makes it very unlikely that God's definition of evil different from ours. Also, why would God allow us to have such a different definition of evil when it causes so many misunderstandings?

8. Evil is simply an absence of good.

This doesn't solve the problem of evil; it simply replaces the term ''evil'' with ''absence of good''. It's still the same thing. You can call ''cold'' the ''absence of heat'', but it's still the same thing.

9. The evil in the word is caused by the fall.

According to most Christians, evil and sin came into the world when Adam and Eve disobeyed god by eating from the Tree of Knowledge. However, God is omniscient, meaning that he knew that all of this was going to happen eons before it happened. Why did he even put that tree in the garden when he knew that Adam and Eve were going to eat from it? Even if he had to put it in the garden, he could have put it somewhere where Adam and Ever weren't able to reach it. Also, why did God create the serpent when he knew that he was going to tempt Adam and Eve into eating from the fruit (he could have at least warned them about the snake)? It seems like the fall of men was planned out by God, even though God is supposed to be omnibenevolent.

Also, how come God decided to create a universe where decisions made by humans (like having sex the wrong way, or doing something else God doesn't want them to do) affect the physical world and cause things like hurricanes, tsunamis and diseases? I'm not talking about the direct consequences that the action has (like how someone dying is the consequence of someone shooting at him), I'm talking about the Christian belief that immoral actions affect the in an almost magical way.

10. God is not the creator of evil.

I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things. (Isaiah 45:7, King James Version)

Nice try, Lee Strobel ([link])

11. Humans must take care of their own problems.

Christians constantly claim that God doesn't interfere because people have to solve their own problems (like saving people who are in need). The problem with this is that in many cases, humans aren't able to solve the problem, which God already knows in advance. For example, if someone fails to save a child from drowning, God already knew that he (God) would be the child's only hope. So why doesn't he do anything? Also, why doesn't he at least provide people with the tools needed to solve their own problems? For example, why doesn't he turn all the deserts into fertile land and alter the weather patterns so that all humans can grow their own food (eliminating world hunger)?


As you can see, the idea of an omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent god contradicts reality, meaning that God is either not omnipotent, not omniscient, not omnibenevolent or simply doesn't exist in the first place. I find the last option the most likely one.

There's a perfectly logical reason for death and suffering. The reason is that nature is indifferent to our suffering, and there's no omnipotent force to help us, so we're on our own. WE are the only people who can make the world a better place.

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Devious Comments

pokecat Featured By Owner Jan 15, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
No madder what religion, evil exist anyway.
So it is part of nature of things, good and evil are like matter and antimatter.
xyloz Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2013
I have only one issue with this...

WE are the only people who can make the world a better place...

How can it be "better", when the premise of bad is false?
ResponsibleAtheist Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2013
How do you mean īīthe premise of bad is falseīī? And yes, we are the only beings who can make this world a better place.
xyloz Featured By Owner Jan 15, 2013
In your core argument you show that God as a premise is bunk.
Furthermore, as a concept evil is a founding principle of the morality the bible lays down is also bunk, therefore if the statement
The bible is fictional can be construed to be true, the premises inside the bible can also be said to be fictitious in nature.
Sure good fiction is based on truth, however, the idea of evil is a foundation on heaven and what goes against god's will.

Evil is synonymous with being bad.

So to say the world would be better is introducing a concept that flows against your entire structured diatribe.

Better how?
There is No Evil!

1) Freewill - Every creature on this planet has freewill, we all strive to survive, therefore when bacteria infest us they are not bad.
They are fighting to survive, and evolve strengths against our immune system so that they can slowly feeding off us evolve and move on.
Some have learned to live in our gut without ever being affected by the immune system and some are lethal to us.

2) Suffering makes us stronger. - Evolution, based on circumstances. If a race is not intelligent enough to make their situation more hospitable then their lineage is forced to adapt to survive. Sure you can say a lot of people die in Africa but a lot more are born, they have adapted to death. One could say they are evolving at a rapid rate to cope with the climate.

3) God's will - 1)Freewill (Reinforced)

4) Mysterious Ways - 2)(Counterpart) to suffering makes us stronger.

5) Suffering on earth - 2) (Counterpart) In this argument - It is shown that not everyone believes in heaven,
God putting an end to evil, via a flood... This just shows that god is unfairly biased towards fish.
This is the first point that heaven is a ridiculous notion, as a result so is hell, and the criteria to enter each.

6) - 5) Furthers the concept of Hell as ludicrous

7) The definition of evil, Showing that we define the terms... Sure we do it differently to God but a name is a name it's the morality equation.

8) Evil the absence of good, redefining the term without solving the constructed morality equation.

9) Bunking the premise that immorality is a factor of why we are here. Furthermore showing immorality is a flawed concept and that Evil is ridiculous.

10) Showing that Evil is intrinsically in the bible alone.

11) Stating in short - to rely on God to fix our problems is Illogical as he doesn't exist.

So there is no god and there are no Evil's just motivation and evolution.

Welcome to the world you live in.

Lets look at a few evils shall we with this new premis and see if they fit...

Murder and Rape - There is always a motivation on an evolutionary stance.
Murder allows less competition and a higher chance of ones own lineage to prosper.
Lions often kill the children of a rival alpha male to then rape the lioness to have their own offspring.
To say that the act of rape is intrinsically evil when the result is life is backward. If anything rape was the driving force of mankinds evolution for millennia and still is for many species to this day.

Arson - The idea that fire is evil is flawed as fire has no free will, a person setting fires for pleasure has a motivation.
Property is a construct of the human mind, also, it is founded in the bible under stealing a loaf of bread.
To say a living being is property is human in nature - Pets
However the idea of property is also rediculous.

Theft - As with arson the idea of property is human in nature you cannot steal what never belonged to you, when you die your body is just a physical arrangement of atoms that housed your mind so what is there to rob when the mind is gone?

Natural large scale events,
All just killing on circumstance, if you choose to live in an area of cross winds or low/high pressure, at the foot of a mountain, near tectonic shifts and next to water then these are things you should be prepared for!
If you aren't then who's fault is it that your house got washed away.
It's like making a nest out of stinging nettles.
Either don't do it or adapt to live in it.
For example reef fish who live in sea anemones.

I could go on but as the premise suggests Evil is a construct of man written in a book.
And in fact never existed in the first place.

Morals therefore are a selfish notion that need the follower to have self worth to be understood.
(do unto others as they would do to YOU) This follows a construct of the Bible and adhere to the notion that evil exists and therefore is evil itself incarnate.

To be immoral cannot therefore be a bad thing in fact it is an evolutionary default.

Furthermore justification is a notion of moral reasoning

Therefore - Without the the premises in the bible the idea of having to justify ones actions to someone else is pointless.
All laws of property and morality fail, as the ideas themselves are build on a faulty premise, the construct is man made.

The point isn't that God can rid us of evil.

Evil is a man made invention and the premises surrounding are also man made interpretations of reality and in fact doesn't exist.

So how can the world (A ball of moulten hot iron) be made Better?
You mean to say...

We can make the world a more hospitable place for us, every other species we don't require can go the way of the do-do.
artofguy Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2013  Student Artist
What do you think life would be like in your "evil-free" world?

What we consider evil is a reflection of the largest challenges we face in life. There are internet communities populated largely by middle-class liberal Americans who consider referring to someone by the wrong pronoun to be horrible.
ResponsibleAtheist Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2013
I didnīt state that an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent God would get rid of every form of suffering or hardship. But a lot of suffering in our world is basically pointless (like a baby dying from an agonizing disease or genetic defect).
Saeter Featured By Owner Dec 23, 2012
If "it" does exist God is not good. [link]
TimeHasAnEnd Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2012  Hobbyist
Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring upon this city and upon all her towns all the evil that I have pronounced against it, because they have hardened their necks, that they might not hear my words...Jeremiah 45:21-23.

"Therefore thus saith the LORD God of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring upon Judah and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem all the evil that I have pronounced against them. Because I have spoken unto them, but they have not heard; and I have called unto them, but they have not answered...Jeremiah 35:17.

I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me. That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else. I form the light, and create darkness. "I make peace, and create evil." I the LORD do all these things. Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness. Let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the LORD have created it...Isaiah 45:5-8
Saeter Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2012
Except for Jesus who is before me and the Holy Spirit (whatever that is?) who stands over to the side.
EdwardSpaghetti Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2012
Feh. A truly omnipotent God would not be like the things of this universe, borne ceaselessy forward in the stream of time so that the past would be irrevocable and the future inevitable.

For all you know, time is actually moving backwards, and all the evil deeds are being reabsorbed by the beings that commit them.

A truly omnipotent God could rewind our universe like a rented videocassete to bring us to a pristine final state where no evil deeds happened at all, and there was no suffering; he could back up the tape and reedit it, rearrange the scenes, or simply leave it paused and go to the kitchen for Cheetos.

What kind of cheap, second-rate omnipotence cannot make things unhappen?
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